On traffic

Well, I didn't find any time to write anything while in North Carolina. Instead, I read 2.5 books (more on that to come), took a couple of mid-afternoon naps, lazed on the beach, swam in the ocean, and ate yummy seafood and BBQ.

However, I am now back in the centre of Pennsylvania. Time to wash the sand out of the clothes, catch the cats up from their attention deficit, and then head back to the office.

The trip back was crazy. Shan and I stopped off in Williamsburg, VA to visit Johnny & Tricia, so we drove about 3 hours from Corolla to their place, had dinner, stayed overnight, then left their place around 2pm. We had about 350 miles ahead of us, so we figured 6 - 7 hours. Unfortunately, we immediately hit stop & go traffic on I-95 north of Richmond. After realizing it wasn't going to abate, we got on route 1 and took it to Fredericksburg to route 17. Then, we took 17 to Winchester and I-81, and figured the slowdown was past. Unfortunately, just past Martinsburg in WV, I-81 came to a complete stop. This was partially caused by one of my major pet peeves -- we were merging from 3 lanes to 2 lanes, and everyone in the lane that was ending was racing up to the front of the line, bringing everyone else to a crawl or a stop when they eventually were forced to merge. I was in this lane, and tried to merge in as soon as I realized my lane was ending, but it seemed like the semis were doing their best to prevent this, they were keeping on each other's bumper, not letting anyone over. Eventually, I squeezed in, and Shannon and I got off on route 11 in WV, and spent an hour wending our way back to I-81 in Hagerstown. I think we went all of about 10-12 miles in that hour.

We picked up I-81 just before the PA state line, and again, just because of the volume of cars (why was everyone going North on Sunday the 27th, anyway?) it was difficult to maintain the speed limit. We oscillated between about 50 and 65. Finally, when we hit Harrisburg and picked up route 322, did the traffic abate and we were able to just drive without interference back to State College. Just to put a bow on the frustration of this particular road trip, someone was going 30 mph on 322 for the last 5 miles before Boalsburg. There were about 10 of us stuck behind this particular person, and they didn't pull over or otherwise try to let the people interested in doing the speed limit by, so we were delayed an additional 10 minutes or so at the very end of this trip.

All in all, it took just under 8 hours to go 350 miles, mostly on interstates. The traffic was ridiculous, and needless to say, I'm finally happy to be home and happy I didn't get run off the road or rear-ended during the trip.


On my summer

I'm hopefully going to be on a beach tomorrow. I'm leaving for vacation around lunchtime. My hope is to play some volleyball before leaving, and based on reports from Christine, supposedly they've been playing some 3s at IM building on recent Sundays, so the plan is:

  • Hit a volleyball for 1.5 hours

  • Shower

  • Last load of laundry

  • Finish packing

  • Clean my 20 gallon aquarium (seriously)

  • Drive to Corolla, NC, with a stop in VA for some grub

Summer has been crazy. Two camps, three workshops for teachers, and one dead laptop (great timing -- my *fourth* logic board failure). I'm really just about dead tired. I'm notoriously not a morning person, but last week was so stressful, I was waking up progressively earlier (6:30, 6:00, 5:45am) and not being able to fall back asleep. Of course, life appears to be back to normal only a day out from camp ending -- it is now 1:38am and I'm typing this.

I'm bringing a loaner laptop (thanks Apple) with me to OBX, so hopefully I can start posting some of my thoughts from the summer while trying to avoid getting dooced.


On the Great Mars Hoax of 2005, 2006, 2007...

Well, it has happened again this year. Last year I got called by a reporter who wanted to know if Mars was really going to be as bright as the Full Moon. This year, I've gotten 4 or 5 emails about the same thing.

So, let me say this, and I hope word starts getting around. The Mars = Full Moon email that circulates every August is a HOAX. You should not believe it. You should tell whoever sent you this email to get back to work and stop sending chain letters. If you don't believe me, here is the official story from those folks who never landed on the Moon.


On the District of Columbia

I'm in DC. Even though this isn't that far from Central PA, the folks here picked up the tab, so I flew from SCE to DCA. I was once again reminded of the joys of traveling in our wonderful air travel system.

I stupidly forgot and showed up at the airport with my mini Swiss Army knife attached to my watch chain. It is now in the trash at SCE. That's ~$10 out the window.

I flew from SCE to PHL and got to pace the terminals in PHL from 5:10 until 6:30 when my flight boarded. We got on the plane, and after 20 minutes of sitting at the gate the captain told us that he had no idea why they wouldn't send someone to lead us away from the gate. Then, when he finally left the gate, he kept hitting the brakes and we kept lurching to a stop. We finally left after about 35 minutes on the ground, and arrived late to DCA. After a Super Shuttle ride the ~5 miles from the airport to my hotel, I was here 5 hours after leaving State College.

For those keeping score at home, my hotel is approximately a 3.5 hour drive from State College.

Personally, I have driven into downtown DC too many times already, so I chose to fly -- I could have driven if I wanted, but still, every time I fly I am immediately reminded why I prefer to be at home trimming the pine trees in the yard. I'll leave the world traveling to those of you that don't mind the inconveniences and inefficiencies of the airlines.

I particularly enjoyed landing at DCA and being packed onto a bus for the ride to the terminal. Our plane was half full, but still we had to practically sit in each other's laps because they only sent one bus to pick all of us up. Then, just as we were arriving at the terminal, they opened the same gate for boarding, so a crush of folks trying to make the flight to Norfolk made it a challenge to actually get inside.

I'm very excited to do all of this again on Wednesday. The good news is that this time I get to spend 2 whole hours pacing in PHL.

I promise to stop whining soon. However, the fact that I have air travel coming up and get to spend all of next week with 60 of my closest friends of ages 5-8 suggests that the first non-whining entry is likely to be post-August 18.


On the lack of comments

I officially now have one comment after 4 months at this. Who had Orcus in the pool for first comment subject?

Personally, I thought it was more likely to be about Bok Globules, so I guess I'm out $1.

On large pine trees and stress

As you can tell from the lack of posts, I've been busier than average. I'm going to spare everyone the details, but let me just say that I have so many hours scheduled that I get a bit overwhelmed. I have no delusions that I work any harder than anyone else or that I spend any more hours at work than anyone else, but I can confess that I get to the point where I feel that so few hours are my own that I really need a break. During the height of the summer I don't have time to pay bills, cut the grass, keep up with the pets, and do most of my other day to day chores. I find that I have to do the lawn in shifts, for example, just to get it done and try to keep it from getting overgrown.

The thing is, other than volleyball, I've found that the thing I do to relax is chores. Really. I remember vividly that in grad school that whenever work was overwhelming me, that doing the dishes would make me feel better. I'm not joking. I had a job in front of me with a specific start and end that I could do and when it was done realize it was done and see whether or not I had done it well. Not only that, but I usually find myself thinking about work when I'm in the shower, in bed at night, watching TV, but when I do chores, my mind wanders away from work and so doing dishes was a way to disconnect from work completely.

When I don't have time to do anything relaxing, where I define relaxing activity as playing volleyball or cutting the grass or washing dishes, I get antsy. I'm starting to have some more time, and this weekend, for example, I should be able to spend all of Saturday catching up on the yardwork. To give you some insight into my warped mind, I found myself thinking this exact thought today -- I was watering some of the plants, and I looked at the huge pine trees that are growing up against the house, and I thought "I can't wait to prune those this Saturday".

I'm serious. I'm warped, I know, but I am really looking forward to getting scratched up and sticky with sap while trimming pine tree branches. It will be a blast -- if anyone wants to come help, let me know.